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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Poliwrath

- Furious Fists

Date Reviewed:
Sep. 24, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.0
Expanded: 1.5
Limited: 2.5

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being the worst. 
3 ... average.  
5 is the highest rating.

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Man, this week is just filled with interesting cards. Victreebel with his less than stellar Hypnotoxic Ability, Magmortar with his tag-partner Electivire, and now we're looking at another Gen I OG Pokemon with Poliwrath! Why's he interesting? Good question! Let's find out!
 
Our latest line-up in the Stage 2 arena begins with a 3-for-60 Steamroll that's all Colorless. It's like he's trying to be Seismitoad-EX or something, am I right? ...anyway, Steamroll is another one of those sniping moves that does 30 to a Benched Pokemon, so naturally the best counter is Mr. Mime. Still, 60's not a bad number to be hitting, but having to use up 3 Energy for it is a bit expensive.
 
Submission adds another energy (and that's a total of 2 Water Energies out of 4 needed) to deal a much more powerful 130 damage, but it does deal damage back to Poliwrath. How much you ask? 30 damage. You know, Poliwrath, our opponents are having an easy enough time OHKO-ing you without you helping them along. Still, with a little Muscle Band and Hypnotoxic Laser, that 130 is likely to help KO an EX, so it's not terrible. Just expensive.
 
Now why is a mediocre-at-best kind of card like Poliwrath interesting? Well similar to Magmortar from yesterday, Poliwrath has a partner that came out in this set: fellow Poli-lution (see what I did there?) Politoed! Politoed doesn't have much with his 3-for-70 vanilla Hyper Voice, but he has the most curious Ability in King's Song; with just one in play, you can ignore the Colorless Energy in the cost of all Poliwag, Poliwhirl, and Poliwrath's attacks. This changes Poliwrath from a mediocre Stage 2 into an excitingly cheap powerhouse! All you need equip are 2 Water Energies, and Poliwrath doesn't even have to worry about not having Energy to attack! Steamroll becomes free - as in 0-for-60+30-Bench - and Submission does 130 for 2!! That's amazing!
 
But that kind of functionality comes at a price: you have to run Politoed AND Poliwrath to make the combo work, and while having the same evolution line helps in part, it does mean your deck will have to focus on these two. Needless to say this is a fun casual deck to try out, but is this going to top competitively? I doubt it.
 
Rating
 
Standard: 2/5 (he's resource-heavy no matter which way you go about playing him, but Politoed makes him cheaper)
 
Expanded: 1.5/5 (a double Stage-2 deck against Big Basics? I don't think so.)
 
Limited: 2.5/5 (he's slow to begin with, and if you don't get that Politoed out, he's gonna need a lot of Energies)
 
Arora Notealus: Apparently he can keep swimming in the Pacific Ocean without resting cause of his muscles...but I don't recall the Pokemon world HAVING a Pacific Ocean. Who're the real aliens now, Poke-conspiracy theorists?
 
Next Time: In my dreams, I see you...WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY HEAD?!
(also props if you caught the joke from yesterday's Next Time! it's terrible, I know)


Otaku

I’m very late to the party, so lets just dive in!

Poliwrath (XY: Furious Fists 17/111) is a Water-Type; this is relevant solely because you’ll enjoy hitting cards like Landorus-EX for double damage, and occasionally run into Resistance on cards like Virizion-EX (though Water Resistance is absent on XY series cards).  While there is some Water-Type support, I can’t see how you’ll work it in with this Stage 2 line (especially after we see what the card lends itself to).  Of course, as it is a Water/Fighting-Type in the video games and this set is focused on Fighting-Types, it might have benefited more from being that Type.  Being a Stage 2 is still a serious drawback, but this card line almost makes it work, but we’ll address that when I cover the lower Stages, related cards and combos. 

140 HP is “okay” for a Stage 2; you’re investing time and at least three cards getting Poliwrath into play and 140 HP is in that kind of gray area where a OHKO is not the most probable outcome (in general, it is in specific match-ups), but it is definitely possible for many decks.  Against Grass-Type attackers the HP is only half as good thanks to Weakness; a Virizion-EX with a Muscle Band scores a clean OHKO and Genesect-EX is in “overkill” territory even without G Booster.  The video game Type combination has Weakness to Fairy-, Flying-, Grass-, Electric- and Psychic-Type attacks.  Of those, the Fairy-Type is probably safer to have (at least for now), plus the TCG Grass-Type includes video-game Bug-Types, and Poliwrath in the video games have Resistance (x˝) to Bug-Type attacks.  Speaking of Resistance, its absence is more a missed opportunity than a real detriment (so few cards have it, and it only occasionally makes a difference), but for the record (and skipping anything that causes an issue due to video game/TCG differences), Poliwrath could have enjoyed Darkness, Fire, Metal or Water Resistance without clashing.  Finishing off the bottom of the card, the Retreat Cost of three is chunky and you don’t want to have to pay it; make sure you pack an alternative (including “tanking”, if it proves viable).  Slight upside; you can use Heavy Ball to search it out in Expanded. 

Steamroll requires [CCC] to use and does 60 to the opponent’s Active Pokémon and 30 to one of his or Benched Pokémon (your choice which).  90 for three is good, especially three of any Type, but the split makes it less effective.  Submission requires [WWCC] and delivers 130 points of damage, which even for four Energy is a solid return, but the catch is the attack also does 30 to Poliwrath itself; if you have a fully healthy Poliwrath, one use of Submission reduces it to “probable” OHKO level and a Poliwrath that has been subjected to an attack may not have enough to survive using Submission after that.  Somes the damage won’t matter as after using Submission, Poliwrath ends up with enough HP to survive but was already going to be within KO range for the opponent’s next attack.  Still a solid attack, as while it requires serious investment, for a Silver Bangle and Hypnotoxic Laser you reach OHKO range of 170 HP Pokémon (excluding the Water Resistant like Virizion-EX): Virbank City Gym would mean even take out 180 HP HP examples (plus 160 HP non-Pokémon-EX). 

Poliwrath has to Evolve from something; Poliwag (XY: Furious Fists 15/111) and Poliwhirl (XY: Furious Fists 16/111) are the only options for your Basic and Stage 1 forms, though you could try something crazy like using Cradily (BW: Plasma Blast 4/101) and its infamous Lifesplosion attack to skip both lower Stages or as expected, Rare Candy to bypass Poliwhirl.  Poliwag is a 60 HP Basic Water-Type Pokémon with Grass Weakness, no Resistance and a single Energy Retreat Cost.  For [W] it can use Rain Splash to do 10 damage (overpriced) and for [CCC] its Spiral Current does 20 to the opponent’s Defending Pokémon while Confusing it and preventing it from retreating… pricey but if you could afford to use it that actually is useful; not just for surviving, but it can be tactically beneficial elsewhere.  Poliwhirl is a Stage 1 Water-Type with 80 HP, that same Grass Weakness and lack of Resistance and a Retreat Cost of [C], plus two attacks.  It also has Rain Splash for [W] and now it does 20, and for [CCC] you can use Finishing Blow.  Finishing Blow does 50 points of damage, plus another 50 if the Defending Pokémon has any damage counters already on it.  This is only a decent deal if the Defending Pokémon has some damage on it, and it probably won’t keep Poliwhirl alive for an extra turn, but it is a nice option to have.  If only it didn’t cost as much to use (...you know where this is going). 

Let me finally address Politoed (XY: Furious Fists 18/111).  This Evolution line Branches, and Poliwhirl can Evolve into either Poliwrath or Politoed, and as I am about to explain, you’re going to want both.  Politoed is a Stage 2 Water-Type Pokémon with a worse 130 HP, better single Energy Retreat Cost (unless you wanted to focus on Heavy Ball and Expanded), an Ability and one attack.  The attack just does 70 for [WCC] mediocre at best, but the Ability may live up to its name: King’s Song allows you to ignore all [C] Energy requirements in the attacks of your Poliwag, Poliwhirl and Poliwrath.  Steamroll becomes a free attack while Submission would only require [WW].  Poliwag becomes a worthwhile irritant using Spiral Current for no Energy and Poliwhirl becomes a decent finisher.  It isn’t quite what I’ve been hoping to see in Evolution lines, but its quite close… and there’s more. 

Celebi-EX is risky given that it is a mere 110 HP Pokémon-EX, but its Time Recall Ability will allow Poliwrath to use attacks from its previous Stages.  Note that the attack is considered to be on Poliwrath, so King’s Song kicks in and cancels out [C] Energy requirements in the attacks: Politoed itself would also gain access to said attacks, but because Politoed does not reduce the cost of its own attacks, they have their usual Energy cost.  This combo gives you a Stage 2 with 140 HP and six attacks, three of which require no Energy!  Steam Roll plus Finishing Blow need just a small boost on the first use to begin 2HKOing Pokémon-EX for no Energy (assuming an uninterrupted cycle of Steamroll Active and Bench hits).  As long as Poliwrath can survive, Max Potion can instantly clear away all damage taken between attacks… at least until you run out of them. 

So why isn’t this the new top deck?  Without Abilities, it grinds to a halt.  It relies on a split Stage 2 line.  It relies on a 110 HP Pokémon-EX for its full versatility, and actually fitting in all the Items you want to run can leave you out of space quickly… and VirGen decks shred it.  For Standard or Expanded, it should be a fun deck, and in Limited its a great Stage 2 line to pull (even the lower Stages) as their overpriced, Colorless-only requiring attacks aren’t so overpriced here (and if you can include some Water Energy in your deck, even better). 

Ratings 

Standard: 3.25/5 - Reflecting the power of the deck levied against the difficulty in setting it up and keeping it going, it clears that three-out-of-five hump but not by much. 

Expanded: 3.25/5 - I don’t think the expanded card pool will really hurt or help this card; the deck doesn’t really gain a whole lot, and most decks seem unlikely to cause more of a problem for it here than their Standard counterparts. 

Limited: 3.75/5 - The whole Evolution line performs better here, though of course pulling them and then drawing into them in a timely manner lowers their effectiveness.  Plus you wouldn’t bother with this if you were building a deck around a sole big Basic Pokémon, of course. 

Summary:  Poliwrath and its line demonstrate how a Stage 2 can be enhanced by making sure its lower Stages (and in this case, alternate Stage 2) all work together, enhancing each other.  It isn’t quite what I think the format needs, but its a lot closer than what we usually see.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it the new top deck; when it sets up and gets going its impressive, but its easy for many decks to disrupt, either by shutting down Abilities or simply hitting hard enough and fast enough that the set-up doesn’t matter.


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